How to Effectively Warm-up Pt 2: Dynamic Stretching & Mobility Drills

woman stretching

Today I’d like to spend a bit of time talking about what I believe are two essential components of a successful warmup – dynamic stretching and mobility drills.

 

We’ll review:

  • What the difference is between static & dynamic stretching
  • What type of stretching should you perform before working out- static vs. dynamic
  • What mobility drills are and why they’re worth your time
  • An entire warmup routine with specific moves to perform on your own!

 

If you haven’t checked out part one of the series, I recommend giving that a quick read/watch as well. I reviewed everything you need to know about foam rolling. When used in conjunction with what we’ll learn here, you’ll be primed and ready for your workouts!

 

So what’s the difference between static & dynamic stretching?

In simple terms, a dynamic warm-up or stretch involves continuous movement (think lunges, bodyweight squats etc.) vs. a static stretch which is a pose held for several seconds.

Static stretching is the type of warm-up you’ll most commonly see individuals performing before their workouts (ie. toe touches, quad stretch, calf stretch etc).

 

What type of stretching should you perform before working out – static vs. dynamic?

According to the current studies, a dynamic warm-up prior to exercise is superior for athletic performance. Static stretching has been shown to decrease muscular strength and performance among various components including balance, agility, and movement time etc. (1, 2, 3).

In addition, prolonged static stretches have been shown to reduce neural activation (4). Thus, in layman terms, your muscular system will be less responsive during exercise. Not exactly the way you want to start your workout.

While you may feel more flexible after performing a few static stretches, in reality you’ve only increased your mental tolerance of the associated discomfort and in turn have decreased your muscular strength.

So what’s the better alternative? A dynamic warm-up!

Performing a series of dynamic moves will increase your power, flexibility and range of motion.

Performing sport-specific movements (movements similar to what you’d perform in your particular sport) will further increase the effectiveness of your warm-up routine and prime your muscular system for the tasks ahead.

Another huge benefit of a dynamic warmup includes a reduced risk of injury during exercise.

Now that we’ve covered the benefits of dynamic stretches prior to exercising, let’s discuss the benefit of adding in a few mobility drills to the mix.

 

What mobility drills are and why they’re worth your time

You may have heard the phrase “mobility drills” thrown around the gym, but you’re not quite sure what it means.

Mobility simply refers to how well you can reach a desired position. It is not the same thing as flexibility (which involves range of motion at a specific joint).

While there are a hundred factors that can contribute to your mobility (or lack of), implementing a handful of specific daily movements can make a huge difference. While it’s important to note that not all joints need mobility work, almost all individuals can benefit from some mobility work in their thoracic spine (upper back), hips and ankles (just to name a few).

In the video below, I go over a quick dynamic/mobility warm-up drill you can perform prior to working out. It’ll take all but five minutes and you’re guaranteed to feel better after!

Give it a try and let me know what you think! For more mobility drills and warmups, I recommend checking out Eric Cressey’s youtube channel! He knows more than just about everybody on the topic and has a ton of great instructional videos.

 

 

Sources:

1. Simic, L. “Result Filters.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 8 Feb. 2012. Web. 16 Sept. 2015.

2. Chatzopoulos, Dimitris, Christos Galazoulas, Dimitrios Patikas, and Christos Kotzamanidis. “Acute Effects of Static and Dynamic Stretching on Balance, Agility, Reaction Time and Movement Time.” Journal of Sports Science & Medicine. Asist Group, 1 May 2014. Web. 16 Sept. 2015.

3. FOWLES, J.R., D.G. SALE, AND J.D. MACDOUGALL. Reduced strength after passive stretch of the human plantar flexors. J. Appl. Physiol. 89:1179–1188. 2000.

4. Behm, DG. “Result Filters.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2001. Web. 16 Sept. 2015.

About Melissa

Melissa Wilson is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through NSCA and received her Bachelor’s degree from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo. In addition to in-person training, Melissa is the founder of ProShape Fitness -- a healthy living company, which specializes in online fitness and nutrition coaching for individuals who want to get back into shape and adopt healthier lifestyle habits.

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